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Only Pack What You Can Carry: My Path to Inner Strength, Confidence, and True Self-Knowledge

3.32  ·  Rating Details ·  177 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
Magnetically written by former CEO of a North Carolina Girl Scout Council and award winning CEO for the Western New York chapter of a national arts-in-education organization, this uniquely engaging travel journal describes four keys to unlocking personal and spiritual fulfillment: solitude, introspection, courage, and commitment. Through a series of compelling travel essay ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published February 15th 2011 by National Geographic (first published January 1st 2011)
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Feb 27, 2011 Erin rated it it was ok
I was ultimately disappointed in this book. I started out really enjoying the author's story; I loved that she had been a plucky little girl who loved horses and adventure, and that she was looking to reconnect with that part of herself as a grown woman. She has an interesting life story. But she lost me when she strayed away from her own insights and experiences to give background on famous historical figures, from John Muir to Mother Teresa. Those parts felt like filler to me, as did the exerc ...more
Feb 21, 2011 Catie rated it liked it
This book was chosen as a book club read with my friend Carrie. I have kind of a closet addiction to self help/improvement books, and since this dealt with traveling, which is one of my great loves, I thought that this sounded like an intriquing book. It was okay. This book was definitely a quick read...partly because I found myself skimming over parts of the book. I found the personal stories and narrative of the author captivating and left with wanting more. I got sucked into her personal expe ...more
Alisa Kester
Aug 13, 2011 Alisa Kester rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
Even though I continued on for a few more chapters (finally giving up due to excessive and extreme preachiness), she really lost me on page 48.

You see, earlier she'd barely managed to survive a couple of nearly fatal incidences (one a horse-riding accident, one a bout with disease) by willing herself to stay alive because "this was not how she wanted to die". Then she travels to Costa Rica, where she ends up riding a half-wild crazed horse through ocean surf while wearing a swimsuit and dangling
Joe Flood
Mar 06, 2011 Joe Flood rated it it was amazing
Janice Holly Booth is an adventurista who has followed her own path through life. An independent spirit, she's not one to let other people tell her what to do. Whether it's a dangerous adventure in the wilderness or managing a nonprofit organization, she's had the courage to stick to her guns. This would be a great book for young women, encouraging them to do more than they ever thought possible.
Mar 02, 2011 Ide rated it it was amazing
Every woman going through a mid-life crisis should read this book.
Kristin Laura
Feb 24, 2011 Kristin Laura rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography-memoir
I was really excited when I won this book, because I enjoy travelling and reading about travel, and I have traveled alone (something possessed me to up and move to Finland for 6 months when I was 21). However, as I read the book, I began to realize the book was more of the self-help genre than adventure/travel. This was a surprise considering the book is published by National Geographic.

The first chapter is Baggage; this is not to be confused with Luggage. There were no tips on how to pack; inst
Jun 02, 2011 Marianna rated it liked it
If Booth had stuck to memoir this would have been a five-star book. She has led an interesting and adventure filled life. The self-help parts came off as a little preachy. Her premise of getting people out of their comfort zone is a great one, but at the end I felt like the only way to gain inner strength, confidence and true self-knowledge was to go throw myself off a mountain, high wire platform or out of an airplane! One, I can't afford to do any of those things, and, two, every single one of ...more
Janet Beach
Oct 05, 2016 Janet Beach rated it really liked it
I found this book very inspiring. I found myself jotting down these hikes and adventures she had embarked out on. It filled me with excitement for all natures beauty and grandeur I have left to see. She is resilient and a survivor. Someone who won't let her collective experiences (bad and good) prevent her from being happy and ultimately living the life that is fulfilling for her. I want that. And to know age is no limit makes me even more hopeful for what time can tell. Life is constantly chang ...more
Alli Brook
Sep 08, 2011 Alli Brook rated it it was amazing
I LOVE this book! On a 5-star rating system, I give it a 10! For the first time in my life, I finished a book and started re-reading it again. It's packed with humor, authenticity, inspiration and excitement - just like life should be! Janice's writing voice reads like a best friend wonderfully lost in a long and deeply fulfilling conversation. Her life stories are encouraging me to honor my vulnerability, be real, and turn fear of regret into motivation.
Mar 15, 2011 Tj rated it it was amazing
Engaging, stimulating,and thought provoking. This book is for everyone who desires to live life fully. Not a packing list, but four essentials to carry with you through life's journey. A great gift for everyone in your life -- young and old -- who are finding their way. I don't plan on traveling alone, but I will use these four tools to find clarity in my life whenever I need to.
Bobbi Taniguchi
Jun 24, 2011 Bobbi Taniguchi rated it it was amazing
Dead-on with her description of solitude and clarity of mind (though not extremely useful when one has small children), the idea of doing what you fear is great for jump starting those who are too cautious in life and feel they're missing out on life. Intimate, fireside tone. Definitely worth reading.
Jan 04, 2016 Donna rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-w-o-r-m-s
A bit to extreme for me. I don't agree that you need to push to such extremes to prove you are courageous. There are many everyday adventures that take a lot of courage. The first 100 pages too long and so was the ending 'epilogue'.
Feb 15, 2011 Toni rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I really enjoyed this book. I won it through first-reads - the book giveaway.
We follow the author on her personal journeys - hiking, canyoneering, dog sledding, etc and along the way we are shown ways to be courageous and introspective.
girl writing
Feb 13, 2011 girl writing rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 12, 2011 Angel rated it liked it
When I received this book, as part of a Goodreads Giveaway, I was excited because I thought this book was someone's memoirs about traveling alone. Being that I do a lot of traveling on my own, I was curious about someone else's experiences. But this isn't about taking a solo trip to Paris or London. The author does travel alone, but she takes these big adventure trips - climbing canyons, horseback riding, dog sledding type things. She uses these experiences to talk about how a person can figure ...more
Mary Beth
Mar 09, 2011 Mary Beth rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was really quite compelling for me. It is written by a woman in her 60s looking back at her life. She found herself along the way and dealt with her fears. This book is about understanding what frightens you and how to overcome it. Though out the book the author inserts stories from her life and other people's lives to show how they achieved goals and overcame obstacles. It talks about letting go of unimportant things in your life and focussing on the things that matter the most to you ...more
Apr 25, 2014 Robin rated it it was amazing
I love a good women's adventure book, and this was certainly that--from dog sledding to canyon rappelling, even to learning the trapeze--but it was also much more. Janice Holly Booth shares inspiring, motivating stories of her own and other people's journeys to and through their fears, then invites us to seek out our own ways of being brave. I really appreciate it when someone is willing to say, "Yeah, that actually terrified me, but I decided I didn't want to be afraid anymore"--then goes out a ...more
Feb 25, 2011 Gloria rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-the-spirit
This is a unique theme for a book. It is almost equally self-help and adventure/nature writing. The author tackles extreme adventures (canyon rapelling, white water rafting, trapezes, and more) as well as more ordinary athletic ventures such as horseback riding and parasailing. At first it seems like she is simply chronicling her adventures which the average person probably could not relate to. Each adventure, however, then leads to a point about courage, introspection, and/or commitment. Probab ...more
Feb 26, 2011 Claire rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
More personal growth reading. Interesting, quick read. In principle the idea of seeking courage, solitude, introspection and commitment (her four key concepts) makes sense, although I think in practice it might not be the right time for everybody. I think the idea of getting away by oneself is probably quite appealing to a lot of people (myself included), but if I'm honest I wonder what kind of breakdown I might have if I spend too much time alone...

Is this whole thing a spoiler alert for this
Dec 01, 2011 Lucy rated it it was amazing
A great inspirational book. The author tells the stories of her landmark times of personal growth. She says that in her life the biggest times of growth have involved courage, solitude, introspection and commitment so the book is divided into chapters under these four categories. I randomly picked this up at the library and it was great. My favorite chapter was courage. It was a good reminder of how courage is earned through practice just like muscles through exercise. I was totally inspired and ...more
Jun 01, 2011 Megan rated it liked it
A good read, but I think it would have been stronger if it had been written strictly as a memoir. The questions/self-help sections at the end of each chapter just didn't seem to flow with the rest of the book. Kudos to Booth for living what she believes, though! It was enjoyable to read about how she has pushed herself to overcome challenges, face her fears, and learn from the adventures she has had throughout her life.
Sep 29, 2016 Chris rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susan Greene
Jun 12, 2013 Susan Greene rated it it was ok
It was strange. Not as represented, I did not particularly care for it but am not sorry I came across it in the travel section at our library. It is only partially about travel, it is mostly about the writer. I feel badly that the author had to beat herself up so much to attain self-knowledge but I admire her perseverance and am glad it worked for her.
Dee Renee  Chesnut
Feb 20, 2011 Dee Renee Chesnut rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
I would rate this four stars for the stories of her travels and her reflective writing about courage, solitude, introspection and commitment. I take back one star for the exercises at the end of the chapters which made this book feel as if it were published to be back-of-the-room sales at motivational seminars.
Oct 14, 2016 Lisa rated it it was ok
This book is NOT what I thought it would be. I am not a fan of "self help" books, and this got a little too MUCH for me at some points. But if you are into travel memoirs that are actually self help books, have at 'er! I will say that this book did make me want to explore her back list and her actual travel memoirs!
May 20, 2014 Anna rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the stories of how she consistently faced fears in her life and overcame them in adventurous situations. Though that's not how it would play out in my life, I appreciated her honesty and fortitude. The rest of it was just good advice for knowing yourself and being healthy. Good reminders and ideas for approaching better mental and emotional health!
Feb 04, 2013 Nancy rated it liked it
Another self-help book, but the author had some pretty entertaining stories about how she and others have faced their fears. I've been thinking about the book since I finished reading it, so that' s fairly good sign.
Jan 01, 2016 Mary rated it did not like it
I did not like this at all. I think that the author wants you to live a very specific life, one that is not obtainable by the average person. To me in order to follow her rules you cannot have a family.
Dec 15, 2011 Debbie rated it really liked it
This was an interesting book and not what I was expecting, somehow. The author's stories about her own life and adventures were compelling even when I thought I wouldn't be interested. The unexpected part of the book was that I learned quite abit about myself in the reading.
Mar 08, 2011 Linda rated it did not like it
I couldn't even finish reading it. The auhor lost me in the endless tale of her adventure canyoneering. I kept waiting to read something that I could use in my own life... Never found it. I thought it was a self-help wasn't.
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Ten years ago, Janice tried to find someone -- anyone -- to accompany her on a trip to southern Utah to explore the mystery of slot canyons. Not only would no-one go with her (she didn't take it personally at the time, but now she's beginning to wonder...), everyone she spoke to tried to talk her out of it. "It's too dangerous! It's too weird! Your joints are creaky - what are you thinking?"

She ne
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